Toshiba provides a wide range of laptops for both consumers and business users, with the Tecra range aimed at business users.

The Toshiba Tecra A9 (£590 inc. VAT) is its entry-level model with a rather standard feature set. It's intended for business users who may well have a large amount of legacy peripherals, hence the addition of a VGA-out port and PS2 port for connecting older devices.

The design is plain and boxy, but feels reassuringly well made. The black and silver plastic is thick and there is very little flex in the design.

With an overall weight of 2.9kg, it's about as heavy a machine as you'll want to carry on a regularly basis. When it came to battery life, we recorded 306 minutes, which is excellent news for mobile workers, as this will easily fulfil a morning's work away from mains power.

Lareg and spacious laptop

The screen is a 15.4-inch panel that has a standard TFT display instead of the glossy coating found on the Super-TFT screens of more consumer-focused laptops.

Images tended not to look as sharp, or colours well-defined, but for everyday office tasks and for use outside, this is a better technology as it casts fewer reflections.

The keyboard has been positioned so the keys lie to the centre of the main body. The keys are of a good size, but we did find there was a fair degree of rattle as we typed, as this isn't the most robust keyboard on test. Also, as the actual machine is some 40mm wider to the left, it's easy to misjudge the location of the keys.

This extra space feels like dead space, but Toshiba has added two quick access buttons that can be used for launching Windows Mobility Centre, while the second is used for matching screen resolution when an external monitor is attached.

Limited power

While the battery life of this machine is compelling for those who want to work on the move, when it came to processing power, this laptop didn't excel.

Powered by an Intel 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo, this machine is more than adequate for daily tasks, but you won't want to rely on it for anything too taxing.

That said, with 2048MB of system memory, we found the Windows Vista Home Premium OS loaded quickly and ran smoothly.

This being a business machine we would have expected Vista Business to be installed, which offers better networking and security features than the home version.

A portable business laptop

The Toshiba Tecra A9 isn't the most powerful of laptops and the position of the keyboard does tend to make it tricky to get accustomed to.

However, with an impressive battery life and a robust finish, this is a laptop that can be used on the move with no compromise.